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Sen. Kamala Harris
Sen. Kamala Harris (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Kamala Harris told a Sacramento crowd Thursday she was grieving with them over the death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man whose shooting by police nearly three weeks ago has roiled California’s capital city.

Hosting a town hall at a church, Harris addressed the shooting at the outset and touted training for law enforcement to counter implicit bias, telling the audience that Clark’s life “is a life that should not have been lost. That is a loss that should not have been taken.”

The Democrat, who had been criticized by some black lawmakers during her previous job as California’s attorney general for not taking stronger action on police shootings, spoke of her work to establish implicit-bias training while serving as the state’s “top cop.”

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Construction workers hold up signs in Los Angeles in 2016.
Construction workers hold up signs in Los Angeles in 2016. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

California has a shortage of homes, which is a key factor in the state’s affordability crisis

To fix that problem, a lot more building will need to happen in the state. But there’s another issue: an ongoing shortage of construction workers.

On this episode of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Pod, we talk about the labor shortage and how that is affecting homebuilding across California. We also debate the influence of the state construction workers union at the Capitol and the significance of union-level wages for building new houses. 

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  • Congressional races
  • 2018 election
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was already having a tough election year.

The Orange County Republican has drawn more than half a dozen Democratic challengers, some of whom have raised more cash than the 15-term congressman.

Election have handicappers declared his race a toss-up, protesters have shown up at his home and district office, and Rohrabacher's name has frequently come up during the investigation into Russian election meddling because of his connections to key figures in the inquiry.

In a legislative hearing packed with criminal justice experts and former youth offenders, California lawmakers pushed forward a bill this week to keep minors who commit crimes out of adult courts.

Three gubernatorial candidates are talking about issues affecting Latino-owned businesses at a forum hosted by the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce in downtown Los Angeles. 

Participating are Democrats Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang and Delaine Eastin. Front-runner Gavin Newsom is not attending

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  • California Legislature
  • 2018 election
Democrats Jesse Gabriel and Luz Rivas were the top vote-getters in respective special elections
Democrats Jesse Gabriel and Luz Rivas were the top vote-getters in respective special elections (Jesse Gabriel for Assembly; Luz Rivas for Assembly)

Contests to replace two Democratic San Fernando Valley state assemblymen who resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct are headed to a June primary with Democrats favored to keep both seats.  

Democrats Luz Rivas and Jesse Gabriel each won the most votes in their respective races to fill the remaining terms of former Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh in the heavily Democratic districts, according to initial but still unofficial results.

Rivas, a 44-year-old science educator and Los Angeles Public Works Commissioner, beat out four other Democrats on the ballot with 41% of the vote. She will face No. 2 finisher Republican plumbing and electrical contractor Ricardo Benitez, 60, who claimed 21% of the vote in the race to replace Bocanegra. 

Flanked by civil rights advocates, California lawmakers announced new legislation Tuesday designed to make it easier to prosecute police officers who kill civilians.

  • California Legislature
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
Sydney Kamlager was elected to the California Assembly in a special election on Tuesday.
Sydney Kamlager was elected to the California Assembly in a special election on Tuesday. (Sydney Kamlager Twitter photo)

Sydney Kamlager, a Los Angeles community college trustee, was elected Tuesday to the Assembly in a special election while candidates in two other nearby vacant seats are headed to a June 5 runoff.

Kamlager, 45, will serve the remaining seven months in the term of former Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, who cited health issues in his resignation late last year.

Unofficial returns on Tuesday showed her winning almost two-thirds of the votes cast for any of the four candidates on the ballot in the 54th Assembly District — more than enough needed to win the job outright without a runoff election.

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  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
Former state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) casts his vote for a Democratic party endorsement in February.
Former state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) casts his vote for a Democratic party endorsement in February. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

A former legislative aide sued the California Senate and recently resigned Sen. Tony Mendoza on Tuesday, alleging she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for complaining about Mendoza’s alleged sexual harassment of a young female staff member.

Mendoza, a Democrat from Artesia, resigned in February under threat that the Senate would expel him after an investigation concluded that he made six female aides uncomfortable with a pattern of  "unwanted flirtatious or sexually suggestive behavior." He has denied wrongdoing and is running in the June election to reclaim his seat.

Adriana Ruelas, who filed the lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court, was the legislative director for Mendoza when he terminated her in September. She was not one of the women allegedly sexually harassed.

  • California Legislature
  • Sexual harassment
Former Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D-Woodland Hills) opened a new fundraising committee that would enable him to tap previously raised funds.
Former Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D-Woodland Hills) opened a new fundraising committee that would enable him to tap previously raised funds. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Matt Dababneh, the former Democratic assemblyman who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct, has opened a new fundraising committee that would enable him to tap into previously raised campaign cash.

Dababneh, who represented Woodland Hills from 2013 through 2017, stepped down at the end of last year after being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, including a female lobbyist who said he masturbated in front of her. Dababneh denied any wrongdoing but resigned in December, saying the current environment made it too difficult to do his job. A legislative investigation into those claims is ongoing.

A prolific fundraiser, Dababneh had more than $1.1 million in his reelection account as of January. Under campaign finance law, those funds would become “surplus” 90 days after he left office. Surplus funds are restricted in how they can be used, such as paying off debts or refunding contributors. They cannot be used for future elections.